Israel faces legal impasse caused by trial of Netanyahu

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has declared victory in Monday’s elections, is awaiting a trial on corruption charges, especially after he petitioned him before the Supreme Court to prevent him from assuming the premiership for a new term.

There are many scenarios about the way the prime minister deals with these charges, as he may use his victory to overcome them or try to form a government coalition that puts an end to the trial.

It is difficult to predict the possible consequences of accusations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust that haunt Netanyahu, who will appear in court on the 17th of this month.

But it is clear and certain that Israel faces an unprecedented legal impasse.

The results of the Central Elections Committee until now indicate that Netanyahu and the parties loyal to him will control 58 seats in the Israeli parliament (Knesset).

And the Israeli right needs three seats to muster the majority and form the next government.

The “Blue and White” centrist coalition, led by Benny Gantz, will gain between 53 and 54 seats when the final results are announced.

These numbers suggest Netanyahu will form the government at the request of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Legal expert at the Israel Democracy Institute, Amir Fox, said that Rivlin would seek legal advice before Netanyahu was asked to form a government.

– The Supreme Court decides –

The law does not require the Prime Minister to step down unless he is convicted of a final judicial ruling.

According to Fox, Netanyahu, who currently heads a transitional government, will remain “a candidate for prime minister.”

“The law is not against authorizing a candidate who faces bribery charges,” he told AFP.

The legal expert expects that Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit will not give a specific answer as to whether a candidate facing charges of forming a government can.

“If he does, the Supreme Court must decide,” Fox adds.

On Tuesday, the “Quality Government” movement, which includes a group representing civil society, said it had submitted a petition to the Supreme Court to prevent Netanyahu from forming the government.

“A person like this cannot be a leader and a model and cannot be a prime minister,” the movement said in a statement.

The Supreme Court rejected the petition, especially since Netanyahu was not yet formally charged with forming the government.

Netanyahu will be tried in three separate corruption cases, all of which he denies and accuses prosecutors and the media of launching a campaign to defame him.

Others are expected to submit requests to prevent Netanyahu from forming the government.

– Controls and Balances –

On the other hand, the leader of the center-left Meretz party in Israel said that the new parliament will vote by a majority of 62 seats in order to pass a law that prevents anyone facing charges from becoming prime minister.

Such a law would be “politically correct (…) and morally appropriate,” Nitzan Horvitz said.

Legal expert Fox believes that such a law would be fair in principle, but he notes that it would be a mistake to pass it on a “clear personal” drive targeting Netanyahu.

“It will be legal, but I think it is not appropriate.”

During the election campaign, Netanyahu’s opponents have always warned that the Prime Minister cancel the investigation procedures against him by trying to undermine the independence of the judiciary or grant him immunity retroactively.

According to Yonatan Freeman, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, such fears are exaggerated and apparently did not raise voter concerns, especially since the Likud leadership led by Netanyahu was the best ever in Monday’s elections.


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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.